British Soldiers shot for retiring without permission

Discussion in '1940' started by Jonathan Ball, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Thats a shame - I thought you said earlier in this thread you checked it. Well if you find it Brian I'd be interested to see what it says.

    By chance do you know who wrote the 246 Fld Coy 1940 history in your book-It would be interesting to see if they were with the unit in 1940 or joined later during the war.

  2. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I paid good money for that bloody History, it niggles me not being able to find it.

    The histories that I have, are all typed on a clapped out old typewriter, and all of them are in a loose folder of A4 sheets. Some one has written in in ink all the RE units that took part in the Sword beach landings. And the names of all the officers involved.
  3. Peccavi

    Peccavi Senior Member

    Here is a question - when do you decide the soldier or group of soldiers is deserting.

    I read Major Forman's book which included the Italian campaign. He would find odd groups of soldiers "Oh never deserting!! Same story every time - just lost and trying to find my Company again. So he would scoop them up and add them to his force - funny thing was that they seemed to disappear just as quick again.

    Second question is it ever permissible in the British Army for an Officer (or for that matter any else) to shoot a deserter\a soldier causing panic?
  4. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Second question is it ever permissible in the British Army for an Officer (or for that matter any else) to shoot a deserter\a soldier causing panic?

    Well on reading posts #2 and #9 it would appear it was permissible to summarily shoot an Officer or Soldier for causing a panic. 2/Lieutenant Jones was later awarded an MC and the incident was recorded in the 2/Grenadier Guards war diary.
  5. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    I've been wondering if the Senior Commanders of the BEF, men such as Gort, Brooke, Alexander, Adam, Montgomery etc ever recorded their thoughts on such matters?

    They were all to the best of my knowledge junior officers during the Great War, a war in which 245 British soldiers were executed for desertion. For that reason would they have really given a second thought to the rights or wrongs with regards to the news that a man had been summarily shot for desertion or causing a panic?
  6. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    There is one great big trouble with shooting your own men.. Or come to that... Bullying them in training.. That is you may have to go into action where the bullets fly and one may just stop you..... Now you may say "OH that would never happen". My answer to that is... There are a great many rough Herberts around that may well have taken revenge. I do not know of such an instant.

    But I do know that it did cross the minds of some..... Would you fancy advancing in open order in the face of the enemy; knowing damn well that a man was behind you, where previously you made his life a misery... How confident would you be?
    PS We never had any bullying. Or making our lives a misery. NEVER!
    There are no courts of law in the battlefields
  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Still happens today-Lots of squaddies jest that they can't wait to see their gaffer in their forsight on Ops.
  8. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Its a fair question about groups of men lost, or parted from their own mob. We were spread far and wide, and often in the fluid conditions where sometimes your behind the enemy, and sometimes in front...Very often we would return to where they had been, and take it from there.
  9. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Reading Andrew Wheale's PhD thesis on General Gale and the 6th Airborne Division, I spotted the below passage a month ago and just found it again. The footnotes are shown in brackets:
    From pg. 45 (46 on screen) in: Wheale Complete Thesis 30-06-21.pdf

    The footnotes are:

    115 Ibid., 1 June 1940.
    116 James Langley, Fight Another Day (London: Collins, 1974), pp. 48–56.
    117 Peter Wood, ‘A Battle to Win: An Analysis of Combat Effectiveness through the Second World War Experience of the 21st (Auckland) Battalion’ (Massex Univ. (NZ), 2012), pp. 48–49.

    I have quickly read through this thread, which does refer to this incident; whether the sources are here I know not.
  10. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Snippet from my Fathers Journals.
    Lectures on troop ship heading to North Africa with 5 RHA.

    Every day lectures on discipline with nice little reminders like;

    If an order is not carried out, I will shoot you (from an Officer)
    "If you move or leave your gun we will shoot you“ just like that!

    "Yours is not to reason why, yours is just to do and die“.

    That must have been good for morale

    I also read somewhere that troops on viewing carnage on beach when the ramps dropped at Dieppe were encouraged to leave landing craft by RN crew pointing mounted Lewis Gun into hold..
    dbf likes this.

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